Swing Kids

Here is a review of the top K drama film, Swing Kids

IMDB: 7.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%

This contains the spoiler for this Movie, Swing Kids

Hangul: 스윙키즈

Hanja: N/A

Released date: December 19, 2018

Genres: Drama

Distributed By: Next Entertainment World  

Directed By: Kang Hyeong-cheol

Written By: Woo-Sung Jang and Hyeong-Cheol Kang

Produced By: Lee An-Na and An Hee-jin

Original language: Korean

Budget: $13.3 million

Box office:$10.9 million

Swing Kids – Storyline

North Korean and Chinese prisoners of war were transferred to a camp on South Korea’s Geoje Island in 1951, during the Korean War. They are kept within the boundaries of the prison camp under the command of American troops, who make every effort to maintain camp peace, but conflict between pro- and anti-communist inmates cannot be completely avoided.

Another prisoner in the camp is a teenage North Korean soldier named Roh Ki Soo (Do Kyung Soo). He is a rebellious kid who, after meeting Jackson (Jared Grimes), an officer who was hoping to work on Broadway back home but had trouble finding employment due to his race, gradually falls in love with tap dancing.

It took a lot of convincing and guts for him to ultimately join Jackson and his established group, which will be performing on Christmas Eve, despite the fact that he was a North Korean who was secretly a member of the pro-communist party in the camp and therefore prevented him from accepting his calling.

They form a group of tap dancers and discover that there is more to life than what society has categorized them as with the help of Kang Byung Sam (Oh Jung Se), who dances with the wind in the hopes of finding his wife, Xiao Pang (Kim Min Ho), a Chinese soldier who is born with a talent for dancing but easily gets tired, and Yang Pal Lae (Park Hyes Su), a skilled translator who makes money through dancing.


Real Name Movie name
A.J. Simmons Jamie
Oh Jung-se Kang Byung-sam (as Oh Jung-Se)
Kyung-soo Do Roh Gi-soo
Ross Kettle Brigadier General Roberts
Jared Grimes Jackson
Park Jin-joo
Hye-soo Park Yang Pan-rae
Matthew D’Arcy Jamie’s Goon

Swing Kids

Swing Kids – Review

Do Kyung Soo was the main factor in my desire to watch Swing Kids. I love EXO, but I admire D.O’s acting skills the most. I can only say that he is a superhuman underneath his adorable boy idol persona.

But notwithstanding, the film did not disappoint, and aside from Kyungsoo, I am aware that the total production is so excellent that it sends the heart racing!

The duration is so lengthy that you start to wonder when it will ever end, but the musical theme, tap dancing, and war genre transport us back in time while also entertaining us with scenes where Ki Soo and the other characters become engrossed in the music playing in the background, including “Modern Love,” “Sing Sing Sing,” “Joy,” and “Free as a Bird.”

It begins lightheartedly and whimsically, introducing us to each distinct individual from various backgrounds who finally teams up for a single goal: mastering tap dancing in time for the Christmas Party. They each joined Jackson for a different purpose, but through dancing, these individuals who were once strangers to one another gradually became close. Despite obstacles and personal issues along the way, their relationship deepened.

The most complex character, and the one who mostly drives the plot, is Ki Soo. Who wouldn’t want to see Kyung Soo tap dance? He’s a commie who sneers at the mere mention of anything Yankee, but he finds himself falling in love with tap dancing and we also see his cold exterior and iron resolve gradually get thawed as the movie progresses. He appeared to be an expert at what he was doing, but it can be disheartening at times that he is unable to just leave the “ideology war” going on in the camp and reveal his true self. Yes, there were moments in the movie’s latter half when we caught glimpses of Ki Soo the tap dancer, but there was also Ki Soo who would make every effort to hide it.

Jackson, on the other hand, recognized Ki Soo’s potential and used that to inspire “change.” Many communists believe that Jackson is just another Yankee in the group, but they are unaware of the fact that white Americans see Jackson less favorably than other Yankees due to his race. Jackson may not adhere to one philosophy for the same reason. He does not view tap dancing as the Yankees’ dance, but rather as tap dancing. Though the benefits don’t become apparent until the end of the movie, I believe he was able to teach that to his group.

I believe that the entire film’s climax—or its high point—is squeezed into the film’s conclusion. Now, this is actually my favorite scene since it emphasizes the movie’s most important themes, which will simultaneously make you desire the plot would remain a fairy tale and tear your heart because you know something will go wrong.

The communists planned an uprising and concluded that if Ki Soo was as obedient as he appeared to be, they wanted him to kill the senior American officer in charge of the camp. Ki Soo has volunteered to be the most important component of the plan even though he is doubtful if he will be able to make it. In the midst of his contemplation, he lets go of everyone and everything that is keeping him from dancing, including the communists, the antis, and the Americans. He must have reasoned that since tap dancing is what he does for a living, why should anyone try to stop him?

Swing Kids show opens abruptly with a very jovial introduction, music playing in the background, lots of lights flashing all around them, and their names prominently displayed for everyone to see. As soon as the curtain rises, Jackson says the now-iconic words that will forever define their performance:

“The title of this performance is ‘Fuck Ideology’.”

The line itself defies convention and represents a revolution. It’s as if they are proclaiming, “We are a force that will liberate ourselves from all forms of injustice,” including ideology itself. Their courage and tenacity were evident in their lovely performance. That five misfits from opposite sides of the world—two distinct cultures, races, and colors—could join together and create something no one had imagined is such a rare occurrence. At this point, they are simply individuals with the desire to be free from the slavery that ideology has brought about, not Communists or Yankees.

These good-hearted folks are harmed by the two opposing parties. Their friendship might have endured forever if they had only run into each other at the appropriate moment, but I’ve learned from watching Korean movies that tragedy, misery, and despair always follow pleasant moments and can be anticipated. I’m tempted to give away the ending right now, but it’s probably best if you watch the film and are actually moved by the moments, particularly the finale.

Swing Kids movie is excellent. Surprisingly interesting and entertaining to watch. You will be so enthralled by Ki Soo’s journey to becoming a tap dancer that every triumph he experiences and every heartache he endures will feel like your own. It works nicely to mix classic music from the past with humorous events and sad, tragic scenes.

The only drawback to this film is that the first three-fourths of it may seem long and that there are times when the plot is a little hazy, but at least it goes back in one way before moving on to something more heartfelt and meaningful. I really didn’t have high hopes for this movie, yet it impacted me deeply and gave me a lot to think about.

Trophies and Awards

Year Award Category Result
2018 19th Golden Trailer Awards Best Foreign Holiday Trailer Award Won
2019 55th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Director Won
Best New Actor Nominated
Technical Award Nominated
39th Golden Cinema Film Festival Best New Actress Won
28th Buil Film Awards Best New Actress Nominated
Popular Star Award Won
39th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards Best Soundtrack Won
40th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actress Nominated
Best Film Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Cinematography-Lighting Won
Best Editing Won
Best Art Direction Nominated
Technical Award Nominated
Best Music Nominated
2020 56th Grand Bell Awards Best Music Nominated
Best costume Design Nominated

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